Pro-rape sentiments blur lines for sexual consent on campuses

Chanting Halifax students oblivious to the real message.

By The Runner
[editorial]

Blurring the lines of consensual sex seems to be a popular thing in our current society. Popular media — music, and television — have helped sustain and normalize the existence of an apparent rape culture.

Take last week’s incident at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. The Frosh week leaders — both male and female — are reported to have led a chant in front of hundreds of enthusiastic new students singing: “SMU boys we like them YOUNG! Y is for your sister. O is for oh so tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.”

Sexist? Yes. Little bit rapey? Definitely, more than a little. Are people alarmed by that message? Heck yes!

What is even more disconcerting is that the 80 students organizing the event thought that nothing was wrong and the chant had been part of opening activities for a number of years.

Okay, the university is embarrassed on behalf of the students and are sending said students to sensitivity training about assault and proper consent , but will they take anything away from it that will really help curtail the consequences of rape culture?

Apparently they’re “shocked and disappointed by their own behaviour” and show “a ton of remorse for their actions.” Jared Perry, president of SMU’s students’ association goes on to say, “it’s one of those things that you don’t realize after the fact.”

Is it? This isn’t an isolated incident. All across Canada and the United States and all western nations, the desensitization of rape and assault is prevalent to the point where speaking out against it makes you the outsider. The odd one.

In the end, attitudes arise such as this one: a second year psychology student from SMU said in a CBC article, “It wasn’t a big deal to me. I’m not a feminist kind of person. It didn’t affect me personally.”

When does it start to affect us? When the lyrics these university students are joking about turn into real actions? When someone you know is the victim of an “N is for no consent” anecdote. When it’s you?

When does it become assault?

Part of this issue arises from the laissez-faire attitude towards sexual aggression found in popular forms of media.

Take Katy Perry and Kanye West’s popular song “E.T” where Perry belts out the lyrics: “Take me, ta-ta-take me, wanna be your victim, ready for abduction.”

People sing along because it’s popular and catchy and don’t understand the connotations of the lyrics. Or they do and they rationalize that Perry is popular and famous and if she’s singing about wanting to be abducted than obviously there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of fun.

Whether it’s kids singing along to lyrics about getting taken advantage of, or chanting along to lyrics about no consent for your little sister, it’s all ingrained to the point that it’s deemed socially acceptable. It’s only when those concerned or outraged by the message speak up and make a stink that it’s even dealt with.

Dismissing it as youth or innocent fun or meaningless jokes is detrimental. Allowing rape culture to persist in a society that strives for equality is damaging. Many of us are still Y.O.U.N.G, but should know the danger in all these blurred lines.

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